Re: [asa] Prophet of Science (Part One)

From: FredHeeren <>
Date: Sat Jun 06 2009 - 18:25:33 EDT

Thanks, Ted, for the response to my response to your first article about
Compton. Your one quote from him says a lot: ³that mind is the fundamental
reality, and that the objective world is a mere product of the activity of
the Supreme Mind or Spirit, God.²
Iım increasingly suspecting that my view of the dichotomy between the
spiritual world and the material world has tended toward the pagan, ancient
Greek concept - - and that the view that lines up better with Scripture, and
with reality, is: The material world we sense is, as I think Eddington and
Jeans called it, ³mind-stuff.² As we Christians understand it (and I think
as Eddington understood it), the source of that mind-stuff is God.
One consequence of this understanding might be for more Christians to
consider whether itıs correct to set the natural world against the spiritual
realm when it comes to creation. IDM proponents might need to rethink
whether itıs as sensible to seek Godıs hand in interventions in (ungodly?)
nature as it is to seek it in nature itself, just as it comes from the mind
of God.
Paulıs use of the term ³flesh,² then, as in ³desires of the flesh,² would
not be equated with the entire physical realm so much as with those parts of
it that we (and the Adversary) use for evil purposes. Since the Christian
hope is not to become disembodied spirits but resurrected, changed, new
creations (including, not excluding our bodies), Paulıs use of the terms
³natural² and ³spiritual² in 1 Cor 15 would appear to carry a more specific
meaning than just ³physical² and ³immaterial.²
Looking forward to Tedıs Part 2 on the ³Prophet of Science,² and to seeing
how QM influenced Comptonıs thinking about ultimate reality.
> Ted,
> I saw that. Glad to see you are writing these pieces.  I haven't had time to
> read the article in depth.    I did point out your picture to my son, who now
> has 1 credit left to get his BS in Physics, and is wondering what to do after
> graduation.  I told him "become a professor of history of  science, like Ted,
> of course!", see....there *is* life after getting a degree in physics. :)    
> He is talking EE grad school or officer candidate school, but has also 
> developed an interest in international relations.
> PSCF is a good reason to be an ASA member.  I don't understand why anyone
> would
> not be a member unless they simply cannot sign the statement of faith. 
> Thanks,
> Dave
> On Thu, Jun 4, 2009 at 11:54 AM, Ted Davis <> wrote:
>> I'm glad that Fred Heeren wants to talk about my essay on A H Compton, in the
>> latest issue of PSCF.  ASA members will have their copies by now.
>>  Non-members unfortunately cannot access it for another 12 months, but
>> individuals may subscribe for one year at $40.  Since my essay will be
>> printed in 3 parts, ending in December, non-members could have the whole
>> essay by subscribing for one year and asking for the subscription to start
>> with the June 2009 issue (table of contents at
>>  The essays by John Brooke
>> and the essay review by Davis Young are among the many other reasons why this
>> issue will be interesting to many.
>> In any event, I thought I'd start a separate thread for this, and lead by
>> responding to Fred's questions, here:
>> FH:  I wanted to draw attention to how helpful Compton's views appear to be
>> on the subject (at least to me).
>> TD: Fred means the topic of mind/brain and dualism.  Fred continues:
>> FH: Ted mentions how Compton "felt 'compelled to give up both materialism and
>> dualism,' turning instead to personal idealism, 'the doctrine that mind is
>> the fundamental reality, and that the objective world is a mere product of
>> the activity of the Supreme Mind or Spirit, God'."
>> This is just part 1 of Ted's three parts, so I'm anxious to see if Compton
>> develops this further. In part 1, Ted also states, "Just as we cannot
>> conceive 'of a thought or volition which exists apart from mental activity,'
>> so 'we may think of the physical world as being both produced and maintained
>> by God's mental action.'  ... 'the difficulties confronting us on the
>> dualistic system with regard to evolution now disappear, for since the
>> development of the world is continually subject to the will of God, the
>> introduction of life and consciousness are no longer mysterious'."
>> And regarding immortality: "If 'we think of it as the final product of the
>> evolution of Godıs world,' and keeping in mind that 'the existence of
>> everything depends only upon God's continued care,' then immortality seems
>> 'more than probable'."
>> I like the way this line of thinking begins to provide a framework for
>> understanding God's continuous, creative and sustaining role through our
>> world's formative history.  Nature itself seems to raise problems with strict
>> dualism, while also raising problems (through quantum mechanics, for one) for
>> strict materialism.  I like the way Compton expresses his third way.
>> I'm wondering, though, if the term "personal idealism" is the right term for
>> it.  Doesn't that term normally suggest that there is no absolute, single
>> mind behind the world?  More important, does anyone else find Compton's
>>  views (about the world as a mere product of the Supreme Mind) as helpful as
>> I do in the dualism/materialism debate?
>> TD: Fred, I will be saying more about AHC's views on mind/brain, esp with
>> regard to immortality, in future parts, and I won't show my hand in advance.
>>  I also like that he was looking for a third way, and your reference to QM is
>> prescient in this instance: in part two, I will discuss how Compton used QM
>> to defend human freedom, though interestingly he did not apply it also to God
>> -- it wasn't until the 1950s that people did that, as far as I know.  And I
>> also like his view of what is often called "continuous creation."  On this
>> point, at that time (ca. 1910), Compton was an orthodox Christian and his
>> theology of creation was "state of the art" for that period--really, he was
>> reflecting the ideas of others, he wasn't creating those ideas himself.
>> As for "personal idealism," that is the term Compton used, and I am not an
>> authority on the term itself.  Jon Roberts (Boston Univ) is an authority on
>> it, and he suggested the specific names I give on the top of p. 80 if you
>> want to flesh out more fully what this view entailed.  Its basically the idea
>> that individual persons are more real than "material" objects.  My
>> understanding is that the term has sometimes meant that there is no single
>> mind behind the world, but Compton certainly thought there was such a mind
>> behind the world, so I don't know how to answer that question accurately on
>> his behalf.
>> Fred, you are an excellent science writer.  I appreciate you being an ASA
>> member, I'm glad you asked me about this essay, and I'm esp glad that you are
>> finding some of Compton's ideas personally useful.  There will be some things
>> in part two (September) that you may also find useful, at least interesting,
>> esp his ideas on what he himself called the "intelligent design" of the
>> universe.  Non-members who want to know more about that -- and there could be
>> quite a bit of interest in Compton's views on "intelligent design" among many
>> who are not members -- are invited to become subscribers to find out.  There
>> wont' be an electronic version until some time in 2010.
>> Ted
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Received on Sat Jun 6 18:26:17 2009

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